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Title: Fantasy Sports: Community through Technology and Ritual
Authors: Jaroszewski, Samantha Nicole
Advisors: Vertesi, Janet
Contributors: Sociology Department
Keywords: Community
Fantasy Sports
Sociology of Religion
Subjects: Sociology
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: I explore the digital artifact of Fantasy Sports using the analytical framework of rituals as used in the Sociology of Religion to understand a digital, networked, and multi-sited field site. I explore the two related communities involved in perpetuating Fantasy Sports game play: a) the users who play and help evolve the game and b) the developers who build and maintain the game. In each chapter, I focus on these two “sides of the screen” to put together a fuller picture of the people who shape this tool– to bear, understanding the technological and social dimensions of workplaces and online communities. While many subfields, including organizational sociology or science and technology studies consider ritual or routine, their intellectual legacy emphasizes a micro-interactional focus that misses the group-level causes and effects of rituals on a group or community. Using ritual as the analytical lens, this dissertation explores how temporality (chapter 3), rules and roles (chapter 4), and boundaries (chapter 5) relate to the community of Fantasy Sports players and developers, which are both particularly amenable to the camaraderie and team-based sociality despite being an otherwise competitive context. Taken together, by looking at rituals in a Durkheimian sense that is both about the social group and the affective, meaning-laden dimensions of participation we uncover broader insights about Fantasy Sports specifically. Thinking beyond Fantasy Sports, these insights increase understanding of hybrid in-person and digitally mediated communities, contemporary social interactions in leisure and work, and primarily –what I term ambiently masculine groups. I suggest that Fantasy Sports is particularly well suited for community building because of its dual temporalities, which include small mundane activities that keep users engaged combined with larger, emotionally valent rituals over a longer time horizon (such as every summer). Organizationally, I propose that both informal and formal interactional structures are necessary for encouraging durable communities. Finally, I explore how the concept of a “core” group helps sustain the cultural and affective dimensions of a group, even in the face of attrition or turnover. I suggest that these elements warrant implementation and exploration in other digitally mediated social groups.
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Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Sociology

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